A tranquil wooded property, located 16 miles from Seattle in Saint Edward State Park, provides one of the Pacific Northwest’s more enchanting lodging options. After all, it’s not every day one gets the chance to stay at a converted seminary, where you may just glimpse prancing deer from your dinner table at dusk.
The brand-new Lodge at St. Edward Park, on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, exposes guests to an intriguing piece of Kenmore history. Dating back to the 1920s, Saint Edward Seminary was created as a quiet PNW oasis in which to educate young men for the priesthood.
These days, the venue reflects on – and maintains pieces of – the property’s former identity, while also inviting visitors into grand, reimagined spaces designed to foster lively banter in the midst of good food and drinks. The Tonsorium bar (Latin for “barber shop”) is situated where seminary students once got haircuts; centerpiece restaurant Cedar + Elm is located in the former seminary dining hall.
Those seeking rejuvenating experiences can head downstairs to the beautiful on-site Vita Nova Spa, marked by natural treatments from kind, skilled technicians, pastel hues, succulents, an outdoor fire pit and sculptures by Sabah Al-Dhaher.
Or head outdoors to wander the 326-acre property, defined by mesmerizing old-growth forest and 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline. Guests can find 71 scenic walking trails, cycling paths and a playground designed by children of the community (and built by 2,000-plus volunteers in 2003).
Hints of the past echo down the building’s long corridors; throughout the expansive property, 36 QR codes link to history lessons, photo galleries and videos sharing the alluring stories behind various sites. Outside, learn about Executive Chef Jason Wilson’s garden – stocked with seasonal goods – and the adjacent gymnasium building, which the state park is turning into a learning center (expected to be completed by late August).
Indoors, black-and-white images line the downstairs hallway, while an upper-level Gallery of Fine Arts displays a rotating selection of local art – that visitors can ogle and purchase. The Lodge will be home to an Artist in Residence program that highlights a new creative quarterly, allowing them to seek inspiration from the remarkable surroundings and to offer private and public lessons.
While there is plenty to explore in and beyond the hotel’s communal areas (including a library filled with games), guests also find refuge in one of 84 comfortable guestrooms, ranging from former dormitory spaces to light-filled suites with vaulted ceilings. Original windows and doors exist alongside curated wallpaper depicting architectural drawings of the building, plus current-day touches like smart TVs, cozy robes and modern glass showers with natural stone elements.
During your stay, grab a cocktail at Father Mulligan’s Heritage Bar before moving to your reserved table at Cedar + Elm, where James Beard Award-winning chef Wilson celebrates the bounty of the Northwest. The menu here is influenced by seasonability and sustainability efforts, while aiming to always support local farmers, fishermen, producers and purveyors.
Standout dishes include the crudo of St. Jude’s albacore tuna and plancha-seared dayboat sea scallops, with strawberry salsa verde, ramps, asparagus and celery root. Book ahead to enjoy the popular Sunday brunch that’s accompanied by live harp music, and keep an eye out for other upcoming events that show off the talents of local spoken word performers, poets and musicians (like Spanish guitar Thursdays, in the bar).
Looking to get off property during your stay? The St. Edward limo is available for guests at $250 per hour for private wine tours, wedding events or an aimless cruise through town. The 1938 Pontiac Tour Limo, custom rebuilt in 2008, mirrors the property’s efforts to honor the intrigue of the past – while celebrating the comfort and beauty of modern-day delights.